Healthcare organizations rely on equipment, tools, and other assets to provide quality healthcare to patients. That includes more than just the medical equipment used in direct care, but also the computers and other assets that healthcare companies rely on to manage patient records, medical billing, and other processes that take place in the background.
Effective asset tracking is a must for healthcare organizations to ensure efficient service delivery and reduce lost and stolen equipment,. Estimates indicate that lost and stolen equipment currently costs U.S. hospitals about $4,000 annually per bed, and equipment theft costs hospitals at least $52 million per year. To improve healthcare asset tracking processes, follow these best practices.
1. Perform a complete inventory audit and tag all assets with unique identification numbers.
Categorizing assets by type, documenting asset value, years in service, manufacturer information, parts vendors, and other information about each asset makes it easier to manage assets over time. The existing operational status of all assets should be documented, as well as any prior maintenance records in existence.
Categorizing assets by type is crucial during the initial inventory audit, as assets of different types will require unique maintenance schedules as well as other distinct asset management procedures unique to the asset type or category. A complete inventory audit and tagging of all existing assets is the foundation of sound asset management practices for healthcare organizations and supports the other best practices described below.
2. Choose asset tags and barcode labels suitable for the application.
Healthcare assets may be subject to regular sanitization procedures or other environmental hazards, so it’s imperative to select asset tags that can withstand regular exposure to these conditions. There are also asset tag solutions designed for high-value equipment that is frequently lost or stolen. Destructible vinyl asset labels and tamper-evident barcode labels, for instance, leave clear evidence of tampering behind, discouraging theft.
Foil labels and polyester barcode labels are suitable options for tagging many healthcare assets, such as computer equipment, while Metalphoto® Aluminum Asset Tags and Metalphoto® Foil Labels are ideal for tagging high-value assets for lasting durability, and two-part asset tags are useful for simplifying documentation and record-keeping, a common pain point when it comes to overall efficiency in the healthcare sector.
3. Optimize equipment utilization with an inventory management solution.
Many hospitals end up over-investing in assets to compensate for the difficulty quickly locating essential assets. By implementing a hospital inventory management system, organizations can reduce (or even eliminate) redundant, unnecessary equipment purchases by optimizing equipment utilization.
Labeling assets and documenting equipment locations in a central database makes it easy for staff to readily locate the tools, supplies, and equipment they need for efficient care delivery. It also makes it easier to manage the complex process of testing, inspection, and maintenance required for healthcare organizations to maintain regulatory compliance.
4. Develop an asset lifecycle management system.
Asset tracking, when combined with asset management software solutions, can be used to manage the asset lifecycle for a variety of types of assets. Using this method, healthcare organizations monitor the condition of assets, manage maintenance schedules, and track the lifetime costs associated with unique assets. Organizations may opt to replace assets after they’re fully depreciated to improve safety by taking older assets out of service before accidents or permanent breakdowns occur.
Asset lifecycle management also provides valuable data to healthcare organizations that can inform future equipment investment. For instance, healthcare providers with robust historical asset data can easily identify the assets that outperform others of the same type, allowing purchasers to select manufacturers offering the best lifetime value when it’s time to replace outdated equipment.
5. Implement preventive maintenance.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations manage a large volume of high-value assets. Asset tracking can streamline the management of preventive maintenance programs, which can reduce the frequency of unexpected breakdowns by identifying potential equipment problems before they cause interruptions. Additionally, ongoing preventive maintenance typically extends the usable lifespan of those costly assets by keeping them in optimal working condition. Asset tracking solutions can also aid hospitals and other providers in keeping track of sanitization procedures to reduce nosocomial infections.
6. Implement a check-in/check-out system.
When assets are tagged with unique identification numbers, healthcare organizations can implement check-in/check-out systems to put real-time availability and location information at providers’ and staff members’ fingertips. Data collected over time allows for optimizing investments: assets that are frequently in-demand and unavailable when needed are assets that should be duplicated in a healthcare organization’s inventory.
If multiple identical assets exist but are rarely all in use simultaneously, most organizations downsize the number of assets in their inventory as these existing assets are taken out of service. The result? Lower equipment costs without sacrificing vital equipment availability.
Healthcare organizations can benefit from asset tracking in many ways, but following best practices for tracking healthcare assets ensures streamlined asset management, cuts costs, and ultimately improves the delivery of care.